Editor’s note: Pacific Gateway originally said the program could provide low- or no-cost child care to some lower-income workers, but the organization now says that is not yet available. This article has been updated to reflect that.

With schools closed because of COVID-19, first-responders, grocery store employees and other essential workers have few places to put their kids. In response, Long Beach is promoting a website meant to match families in need with workers who can provide them in-home child care.

The online platform, called “Work Long Beach,” is hosted by Pacific Gateway and was launched by the city prior to the COVID-19 pandemic for workers in all sectors. But right now, the program is being used to match out-of-work child care professionals with essential workers.

Child care workers and families who need help can both register on the platform at pacific-gateway.org/longbeachworks. Once the child care workers complete the registration process, a city employee will review their background information and enter the person into the program database if they are approved, according to the city. Then, parents can use the program to search for available help, see availability and rates.

Workers from organizations like LBUSD, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach and the city’s parks and recreation department who register through the program will be able to be quickly approved because they have already been live scanned and given background checks, according to Sam Hall, the Director of Economic Innovation at Pacific Gateway.

Families will pay the child care provider securely through the city’s platform.

Hall said the organization is working to be able to provide a solution for lower-income essential workers to be able to access low-cost childcare, but do not yet have the resources for that.

The city is encouraging all pre-screened and qualified workers who can provide in-home child care—including LBUSD’s VIP volunteers—to register. All workers will be screened for health and safety in addition to the standard background check, according to the city.

“Our hope is that all of the families who provide critical services and risk their lives for our community are able to obtain the child care that they need during this health crisis,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

Qualified childcare workers can register by calling 562-570-3702 or visiting: https://www.pacific-gateway.org/longbeachworks.

Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ValerieOsier